The Slatest

Pro-Life Groups Want a Moratorium on Abortions When the Pope Comes to Town

Pope Francis waves to the faithful St. Peter’s Square.

Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

According to WHYY, a public radio station in Philadelphia, pro-life groups in that city are calling for a moratorium on abortions when Pope Francis pays his first visit there for the World Meeting of Families in September. 

The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, president of the Christian Defense Council, says the group is asking all abortion clinics in Philadelphia to shut their doors for a week during Pope Francis’ visit to the United States.

“Our hope and prayer is, while Pope Francis is here — a pope who has stood for the disenfranchised, the needy, the oppressed — that innocent children’s lives will not be taken while he makes his first visit to Philadelphia.”

Mahoney’s primary target has responded somewhat negatively to the request.

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania CEO Dayle Steinberg says her group says “no” to a moratorium.

“One in three women in America will have an abortion in her lifetime, and we fight against the campaign to marginalize abortion as morally wrong and socially unacceptable.”

Pope Francis attracted attention in his first extended interview in 2013, when his somewhat moderate position on a few contentious issues, including abortion, tempted some to speculate that he might turn out to be a “liberal” pontiff.

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” Francis argued. “The teaching of the church,” he assured his interviewer, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, “is clear, and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.” 

More recently, the Pope has given comfort to abortion opponents by calling abortion “a sin against God,” and his liberal credentials on the issue will take an even bigger hit if he accepts the invitation from the “Philly Alive” coalition to join their vigil outside Planned Parenthood when he is in Philadelphia, though that seems unlikely.